Happy New Year! As 2020 begins, it is time to contemplate what might be in store for the next 12 months. For many people, that means making resolutions about how to improve themselves. All together now: new year, new you!

According to a survey for 2019, last year’s most common resolution was to “eat healthier”. Next was to “exercise more”, then “lose weight”, followed by “save more and spend less”. The fifth most common resolution was to “learn a new skill or hobby”.

But although around half of adults make new year’s resolutions, only about 10% stick to them. Often this is because they are unrealistic or too vague to act on.

Luckily, psychologists are learning more about how we can change our own behaviour. Here are some of the best tips for keeping your resolutions:

1. Be realistic about what you can achieve.

2. Break them down into short-term, manageable steps.

3. Share your resolutions with other people who can encourage you.

4. Habits form through repetition, so find ways to make the new behaviour part of your daily routine.

5. Slipping up is not the same as giving up. Everyone makes mistakes, so don’t worry if you experience setbacks — forgive yourself and keep on going.

Read Our Stories


What is the best way to spend your time? This video looks to the Ancient Roman thinker, Seneca, for one possible answer. What resolutions could we make based on his ideas?


  1. Write down three things that you want to do in 2020. Then, bearing in mind the advice above, think about how you can achieve them. Remember: realistic, short-term, daily goals are more useful than grand but vague ambitions. Share your resolutions with a partner — and try to remember to check in on each other over the next few weeks!
  2. What do you think will happen in 2020? Predict five big news stories that you think we will see during the next 12 months, and write them down somewhere safe. Check back in December to see if you were right.
  3. What new year resolutions should the world make in 2020? As a class, take it in turns to suggest global ambitions for the next year. Then discuss: Is there anything ordinary people can do to make them happen?